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Image from RNZ Behind The Mic: the Kim Hill Interview
Image from RNZ Behind The Mic: the Kim Hill Interview

MediaNovember 25, 2023

The Kim Hill verdict on RNZ 

Image from RNZ Behind The Mic: the Kim Hill Interview
Image from RNZ Behind The Mic: the Kim Hill Interview

And assorted other bonus Hillisms as the acclaimed broadcaster signs off.

At noon today, Kim Hill will sign off from Saturday Mornings for the last time in 21 years, farewelling a regular gig at RNZ National – or National Radio as it was better known for most of her career – after 38 years.

Having fronted all the big programmes, from Checkpoint to Morning Report, Nine to Noon to Saturday Mornings, what is her assessment of the place? 

The pro-Kremlin edit thing was a kick in the shins, prompting a collective “fuck, fuck, fuck”, she says. But on the whole? “I think,” she said with a long pause during a recent interview with The Spinoff (you can read that here), “that it’s great and it could be better.” 

The national broadcaster “just needs to adjust to the, you know, ‘the changing environment of the media’,” she said, putting on a haughty voice. “It’s really hard because it’s so fragmented now. And you have to accept that people are going to get their news from lots of different sources or one really peculiar source, one weird Twitter thread, and that they believe everything they hear.”

She added: “I do not know how anything is going look in say five years time. Are we still going to have TVNZ? Is that still going to be a state broadcaster? Are there going to be paywalls on absolutely everything? I don’t know. It’s all up for grabs. But I don’t think there’s anything much better than a commercial-free talk radio station.” 

On the question of the RNZ-TVNZ merger, which was the original sacrifice on the Labour government bonfire at the start of the year, she had no strong view either way. “I had no idea whether it would work. I had no idea whether it would happen,” she said. “And I knew as everybody else did that if National won the election it wouldn’t happen. And so there seemed to be little point in investing so much into it at that point – but people did.”

The central problem with the venture was that the case for pursuing it was never satisfactorily made. “It was like Three Waters – who explained it?”

David Lange and Kim Hill on Face to Face.

Other bonus Kim Hill bits

On the prime minister whose company she most enjoyed: God I loved [David] Lange. You couldn’t not love him. Unless you had to work with him as prime minister. Then he was a disaster. But he was adorable. He was funny. And clever. And vulnerable. And all those things, you know, that made them a nightmare simultaneously.”

On being told “that’s a good question”: “I think they’re playing for time. If somebody says, ‘I’ve never been asked that question before,” that is really good.”

On the interviews she tries to avoid: “The people who have been interviewed many times before and only have one story to tell. And even if enough people haven’t heard that story, it doesn’t matter, they’ve still told it too many times. The best interviews are where you can hear the person thinking. You can hear them thinking, ‘I don’t know, I don’t know the answer to that question, let me think about that.’ That is great.”

Keep going!